Raquel Stevens

A highlight of writing a profile piece for the Wombat Post is the joy of meeting salt of the earth locals. Finding them is the challenge.  However, from day dot, one name has been mentioned on repeat.  Max Primmer.

I’m told he can be found at the Mill Market on Thursday mornings.  As I enter,  I hear them, before I see them. Vivacious Max holding court with his ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ dynamos.

An eclectic mixture of mature locals coming together to talk, tinker amongst vintage items and share their words of wisdom.

Finally, in the flesh Max Primmer. What a pleasure, I have heard so much about you.

Thank you, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.  I have an outgoing personality, I’m always up for a chat.

What brought you to Daylesford?

My partner had died, and I was still working in Melbourne. In 2003, I decided to go to the Chill Out Festival in Daylesford with a friend.  It had a feeling of inclusiveness, comfort, and security. Three weeks later, I moved there.

20 years on, can you comfortably call it your happy place?

It’s just been fantastic.  I think one of the main things that a lot of people have on their mind is, will I be accepted?  Will I fit in?  I found that there was no judgement when I moved here.  I also started volunteering.  Soon enough, you are accepted because you’re actually putting back into the community that you are living in.

Describe yourself in one sentence.

Vivacious, friendly, always willing to help and just be me.

As an active member of the community, what brings you joy?

I will talk to anybody.  I say good morning to strangers. So many people are lonely because they don’t have any interaction.  They get to a certain age where their friends have died, their family don’t visit, and they are lonesome.  I am actively involved with both aged care facilities here in Daylesford.

Max as his alter ego “Miss Di Alysis”

You are the poster boy for the Hepburn House, ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ group. Is everyone welcome?

Absolutely.  We started with four and now we have twenty four. We had a new woman join us this morning. We all just sit around and talk. For a lot of the people that come, it’s the one thing in their week that they look forward to. I am busy, but for the person sitting at home, someone who would love a chat, they come here, have a coffee and meet new friends.  We are no longer a group, we are family.

You came out at the age of 15. It was 1964.  That must have been difficult.

I have always been very upfront, and I think that comes from a great family.  I told my parents that I was gay, and they just said, ‘Well, if that’s the way you want to live your life, that’ s fine. As long as you are safe and happy, we don’t really mind.’

What advice would you give your 18 year old self? 

My grandmother, my dad’s mum, died when I was 15. I was with her the day before she died. She said to me, ‘Don’t be sad that I’m gone. Just be happy that I was here. And be yourself. Live life true to yourself.’  I have always remembered those words and tried to live by that ever since.

Who would be your three favourite dinner party guests?

I would search out three people who live alone, who need company.  They would be my guests.

What’s in your fridge right now?

Lettuce, tomato, ice cream.  Always ice cream. I can’t live without ice cream.

A wombat walks through Hepburn House wearing a top hat. What does it say?

Have you got time for a cuppa?

What would be the title of your memoir?

‘I did it my way’.  Frank Sinatra, I love that song.  And I think I did everything my way.  Not ashamed. And still today, I just do what I wanna do!

What are you streaming right now? 

Nothing, I read books.

What’s on your bedside?

I love James Patterson, anything that is a murder mystery.  I also like biographies.  Bette Davis is a favourite.

Favourite playlist.

Always Queen.  I just love their music. Their lyrics are amazing. I have a long list of favourites songs. If I was to pick one, it would be ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It’s brilliant.

I have never …

Been arrested.

If you were a hashtag, what would you be? 


You have dedicated years dressing up via your alter ego, “Miss Di Alysis” for the ChillOut Festival. However, this year you are giving it a miss, why?

It’s the first one I have missed.  Also the team that makes my costumes, we’ve decided to take a year off.

We are expecting 30,000 plus visitors over the weekend, and I am immune compromised. I’ve had open heart surgery and a kidney transplant. I need to be careful.  It’s ok, I’ve attended them all over the past two decades.

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

 Advice for those thinking of getting the t-shirt?

It’s the best all-inclusive festival and is in a beautiful country setting. It has a relaxed vibe. The main street parade is iconic. Come up for Carnival Day, you can sit out at Victoria Park with your same sex partner, your kids, your dogs.  No one will judge you.

What will you do instead?

Watch Bohemian Rhapsody the movie, with a box of tissues.

Max Primmer, I’m joining you. Save me a seat.


The theme for this year’s ChillOut Festival is ‘Find Your Wings’.  It runs from March 9-13.  www.ChillOutfestival.com.au

Anyone is welcome to join the ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ group. They meet every Thursday, 11am, at the Mill Market in Daylesford.

Raquel Stevens is a former Network Ten News Journalist. She has been a part time local for more than 25 years, and one day hopes to be a full time local.